The Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism is an independent, nonprofit and nonpartisan news service founded by Stephen J. Berry, a Pulitzer-prize winning investigative journalist and an associate professor of journalism at the University of Iowa, and Robert Gutsche Jr., a University of Iowa Ph.D. student and journalist who helped launch the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2009. Its first full-time executive director-editor was Lyle Muller, a veteran Iowa journalist whose experience included serving as editor of The Gazette (Cedar Rapids, IA). Suzanne Behnke succeeded him in September 2019 after Muller’s retirement, although Muller continues to do some education and editing work for the Center.
The Center was incorporated as a non-profit in the state of Iowa in February 2010. The IRS granted Iowa Center for Public Affairs Journalism tax-exempt status under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Service Code as a charitable organization in July 2010.
To be Iowa’s leading collaborative investigative news organization.Revised and adopted December 2018
To lead investigative journalism in Iowa through collaboration, training of future journalists and efforts to increase the understanding of the role of journalism in a democracy.Revised and adopted December 2018
At the heart of the Iowa Center’s work are core values, which are the means by which the Iowa Center will achieve its vision. These values drive how the Iowa Center operates internally as well has how it functions in its external environment.
The Iowa Center will ensure that vetted, verified information is at the heart of its work.
The work of the Iowa Center and others similarly engaged is critical to maintaining a well-informed public, productive public discourse, and, therefore, a strong democracy.
The Iowa Center trains journalists and media organizations in the art and science of investigative journalism, and it educates the public on issues related to media consumption.
The Iowa Center believes in the power of collaboration—with journalists, media organizations, and other communities.
The Iowa Center – guided by a Board of Directors compose of news professionals, educators and business professionals – has developed a network of partners for collaboration and distribution of stories. More than 100 news organizations annually republish or air stories by the Center.
The Center is led by an executive director-editor. This officer is the principal executive officer of the center, the primary contact with the Board of Directors and the public face of the organization.
The executive director-editor networks with journalism leaders and potential funding sources, raises funds, hires and develops the staff, oversees the editing and production of the Web site and edits all major explanatory and investigative stories.
Stephen J. Berry served as interim executive director-editor of the organization during its first two years, working voluntarily to organize and establish the Center, obtain tax-exempt status and raise start-up funding. He continues to volunteer as the executive director’s go-to, always-accessible primary adviser. He continues to play a role editing stories, working with the executive director-editor in raising funds, and, when needed, helping to supervise staff and interns.
Our reporters include student interns who report on their own, or side-by-side with professional reporters employed by the Iowa Center or our news partners. We periodically take on assignments with our news partners.
To fit the education portion of our mission, we train and publish worthy news stories of student journalists. This work meets high standards expected of professional journalists. We are striving to:
- Maintain and possibly expand current programs working with colleges and universities, as well as with high schools, in an effort to train future investigative journalists.
- Develop training for current journalists to improve awareness and skill in investigative journalism.
- Show people how to consume the news, particularly in how to distinguish fake news from fact-driven news.
We also want to be innovative as we:
- Pursue innovative approaches to journalism, such as predictive journalism, crowdsourcing, and other disruptions to how journalism has been practiced.
- Curate and implement approaches to developing a stronger, broader network of individuals and organizations that value, demand, and make use of the Iowa Center’s products and services.
- Develop creative new approaches to fundraising, including new fund-raising events that sustain our work.
- Define new staff roles to support and further program innovations.
The Iowa Center works under the ethical guidelines of the Society of Professional Journalists, incorporating them into its reporting and editing processes as established by the Center for Public Integrity.
How the two meet
Education is a major focus for the Center. And as the commercial news industry’s business model falters, we’re joining the growing number of non-profits across the country trying to fill the gap. We train new journalists about how to do ethical, accurate and transparent journalism.
We seek to produce highly motivated journalists – whether they are students or professionals – imbued with the investigative mentality.
We wish to hold public officials to high standards, assist regional and local news outlets in Iowa in the production of independent investigative and depth journalism, and provide an intense and meaningful educational experience and training for young journalists.